A RE­PORT ON AUS­TRALIA’S BUR­GEON­ING LE­GAL MARIJAUNA IN­DUS­TRY.

The door to le­gal­is­ing mar­i­juana in Aus­tralia is creep­ing open and a crowd of in­vestors, bankers and doc­tors are pre­par­ing for the race to build a new multi-bil­lion dol­lar in­dus­try.

GQ (Australia) - - INSIDE - WORDS STEPHEN CORBY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DEANOSLAND

He squeezes a tiny amount on to a kid-sized corn chip, shoves an­other on top to make a ‘sand­wich’ and in­sists GQ swal­lows it – the same amount of medic­i­nal cannabis he gives to his four-year-old daugh­ter, Kate­lyn, morn­ing and night, to con­trol her bru­tal and tra­di­tion­ally un­treat­able form of epilepsy, Dravet Syn­drome. It tastes a lot like lawn clip­pings. Or, if you’re the sort who may know, mull cake. Lambert, 44, is aware that what he’s do­ing is il­le­gal – grow­ing the pun­gent crops that sit out­side, hid­den from plain sight among the pump­kin and tomato plants, all of them thriv­ing with a ver­dancy that sug­gests at least one green thumb. Po­lice raided the Lambert fam­ily home last year – seven of­fcers land­ing in three sep­a­rate cars – af­ter he drew at­ten­tion to his daugh­ter’s plight, and the pos­i­tive ef­fects of mar­i­juana, by writ­ing to sev­eral politi­cians. Still, fac­ing court with a lawyer who tells him he has no ac­tual le­gal de­fence is bet­ter than the al­ter­na­tive. “Dravet is a cat­a­strophic form of epilepsy that’s not treat­able by nor­mal med­i­ca­tions, you just seize and you seize and you seize, you get more and more brain dam­aged and by the time you’re 40, if you’re not dead, you’ll be a shiv­er­ing, drib­bling mess, and the only way to save them is to stop the big seizures. And we know cannabis works,” he says, tears steal­ing his voice. One by one, his chil­dren qui­etly leave the room, ex­cept Kate­lyn. Lambert’s chest heaves. “I know of a father who had a nine-year-old girl, who has now mer­ci­fully passed on. If you’d seized as much as she had for nine years, you’d wish you were dead. And he asked me about cannabis, but he didn’t give her the medicine be­cause he was scared about the law and his job, be­ing a teacher. And I un­der­stand that. I don’t blame him for her death, but I imag­ine the enor­mous suf­fer­ing he must be feel­ing. The tri­als show cannabis re­duces the seizures by 60 per cent.” For many, medic­i­nal cannabis is a sim­ple equa­tion of life or death. And it’s their sto­ries, their des­per­a­tion, that’s moved Aus­tralia’s political land­scape to the point where leg­is­la­tion to al­low gov­ern­ment­con­trolled cannabis cul­ti­va­tion is now im­mi­nent. The Fed­eral Gev­ern­ment in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion into par­lia­ment in Fe­bru­ary to le­galise cannabis for med­i­cal use and sci­en­tifc re­search. And in NSW, a trial test­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of medic­i­nal cannabis on 40 chil­dren with in­tractable epilepsy is al­ready un­der­way. That law change will open a door, like it did in the US. And be­hind the door are a lot of peo­ple who have no med­i­cal need for mar­i­juana at all – those who see it as a kind of magic beanstalk.

When you pic­ture the kind of peo­ple who in­vest in mar­i­juana, it’s likely you’re sketch­ing Cheech and Chong types – dog-eyed, spaced wasters who can’t re­mem­ber why they got into the busi­ness in the frst place. The mod­ern re­al­ity – in a world where the US state of Colorado raked in $100m in tax rev­enue on le­gal mar­i­juana in the last fs­cal year, the state’s se­cond full pe­riod of le­galised choof (and dou­ble earned on al­co­hol) – is dif­fer­ent, with sharp-suited in­vestors seek­ing a dif­fer­ent kind of high re­turn. It’s been la­belled the ‘Green Rush’, a lu­cra­tive and new agri­cul­tural/ med­i­cal sec­tor, and its global march has al­ready led to com­pa­nies list­ing on the Aus­tralian Stock Ex­change (ASX). For now, their op­er­a­tions re­main off­shore, in coun­tries where man­u­fac­ture and sup­ply is le­gal. Or they keep to niche ar­eas, like top­i­cal creams con­tain­ing cannabi­noids, which can be used in Aus­tralia be­cause as a cream, the drug isn’t tech­ni­cally in­gested. But they’re all po­si­tion­ing them­selves to be ready when the laws change, when a po­ten­tially multi-bil­lion-dol­lar lo­cal cannabis in­dus­try – an in­dus­try sell­ing weed for ev­ery­thing from cos­met­ics to can­cer to recre­ational highs – lights up. There’s al­ready plenty of money in med­i­cal mar­i­juana – from grow­ing it to de­liv­ery sys­tems to health sup­ple­ments peo­ple can take ev­ery day. And if Aus­tralia takes the same path as four Amer­i­can states (with more set to fol­low), then full le­gal­i­sa­tion means a pot of gold on the hori­zon. Those in the in­dus­try dis­cuss a “le­gal jour­ney” from de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of medic­i­nal use to com­plete le­gal­i­sa­tion – it may take longer in some re­gions than oth­ers, but it hap­pens even­tu­ally. And when recre­ational use does ar­rive, those same early in­vestors will be rak­ing in the green – we’re talk­ing Marl­boro money, Coca-cola cash. You, ev­ery­one you know, and even your pets, could be tak­ing cannabis, in some form, ev­ery day. To say noth­ing of the tourists. Those as­tute types in­vest­ing to­day, as the reg­u­la­tory door creaks open an inch, don’t come across as soil-sam­pling sci­en­tists. Nor will you fnd much tie-dyed cloth­ing or the lin­ger­ing scent of Nag Champa swirling about their of­fces. But they are united in be­liev­ing that the mar­ket for mar­i­juana, both here and glob­ally, is palm-rub­bingly large. Gae­lan Bloom­feld, 28, has a back­ground in cor­po­rate fnance and man­age­ment con­sult­ing. He presents as the sort of man who’d wrin­kle his nose in dis­gust if you passed him a joint at a party. But as spokesman for what he likes to call Aus­tralia’s “farm to pharma” com­pany, MMJ Phy­totech, he’s very, very ex­cited about cannabis. “We’re talk­ing about a drug that can help with pain, spas­tic­ity, un­treat­able epilepsy, chronic in­flam­ma­tion, mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis… It’s good for ft­ness; gym junkies are keen on it be­cause it’s an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory and the list goes on,” says Bloom­feld. “It’s tough to give a num­ber for just how big the cannabis mar­ket will be, but the best way to ex­plain it is to look at the vi­ta­min C story. Fifty years ago it was rare for peo­ple to take it – to­day it’s a multi­bil­lion dol­lar mar­ket. And we re­ally be­lieve the medic­i­nal cannabis mar­ket will grow to that size.” MMJ Phy­totech grows, ex­tracts, refnes and sells cannabis pills – mar­keted as a di­etary sup­ple­ment and yours to pur­chase in Europe for €3 apiece, not that you could im­port them to Aus­tralia. While listed on the ASX, its op­er­a­tions are lim­ited to other coun­tries where medic­i­nal cannabis is le­gal. For now. The com­pany floated in Jan­uary 2015, its share price dou­bling within a day. In March of that year, the lo­cal outft merged with Cana­dian cannabis grow­ers, MMJ Bio­science, in a $15m deal. Med­i­cal mar­i­juana’s been avail­able in Canada since 2001, with be­tween 35,000 and 40,000 pa­tients en­rolled in a pro­gram run by the na­tion’s health depart­ment. It’s a mar­ket worth as much as $100m

an­nu­ally, with the coun­try cur­rently de­bat­ing a move to le­galise recre­ational use, ex­pected to cre­ate a $5bn pot mar­ket. One of the most proftable po­ten­tial uses for cannabis is the mag­i­cal world of cos­met­ics. Dr Ross Walker, a 59-year-old me­dia-friendly health pun­dit and Syd­ney ra­dio host, is so con­vinced of the po­ten­tial benefts of medic­i­nal mar­i­juana that he’s joined the board of an­other Asx-listed cannabis com­pany, MGC Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Dr Walker says cannabis creams have anti-wrin­kle prop­er­ties, the Holy Grail of cos­met­ics, and thus the po­ten­tial for proft is huge. MGC hopes to have its cos­met­ics avail­able in Aus­tralia by mid-2016. “The fnan­cial guys say the world mar­ket for med­i­cal mar­i­juana-based cos­met­ics is $270bn, which is quite ex­tra­or­di­nary,” he ex­plains. So, as an ac­tual doc­tor, how re­mark­able is cannabis as a cure-all, and won’t we all end up fat from eat­ing too much pizza while ‘med­i­cated’? Dr Walker says that there are more than 200 dif­fer­ent ac­tive sub­stances in cannabis and one of them in par­tic­u­lar, CBD (Cannabid­iol), is good for ev­ery­thing from wrinkles to pain to in­flam­ma­tion to epilepsy. The other, more in­fa­mous, chem­i­cal is THC (Tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol), the one that makes peo­ple crave Coco Pops for their flavour and laugh out loud at Adam San­dler movies. “Some peo­ple don’t un­der­stand that medic­i­nal mar­i­juana is noth­ing to do with the stuff they smoke, THC, which is a poi­son and causes de­men­tia, loss of mem­ory, loss of mo­ti­va­tion. And THC should, in my view, re­main il­le­gal,” says Dr Walker. “I’m against peo­ple who think that mar­i­juana it­self is harm­less. Peo­ple shouldn’t smoke any­thing.” Still, the case for CBD use against a wealth of ail­ments is strong, and Dr Walker ac­knowl­edges that de­spite al­most 80 years of sci­en­tists avoid­ing re­search on an il­le­gal drug, ev­i­dence con­tin­ues to mount in its favour. “In Aus­tralia, seven per cent of peo­ple suf­fer from some chronic pain, and the way we’re man­ag­ing that is with painkillers that can be bad for your stom­ach, your kid­neys, and in­crease the risk of heart at­tack,” he says. “It’s been shown that CBD has a sig­nif­cant ef­fect on chronic pain. “An­other huge area is the treat­ment of can­cer, be­cause CBD can re­duce nau­sea and help with pain; it can also re­place pre­scrip­tion nar­cotics – drugs that now cause more deaths from over­dose than heroin. There’s also some work that shows CBD in­hibits the growth and spread of can­cer­ous tu­mours, at least in the lab. It’s ex­cit­ing stuff. We’re look­ing at some­thing that’s prob­a­bly go­ing to ri­val things like stem-cell re­search.” Is­rael has been on the medic­i­nal cannabis train since last cen­tury, with the He­brew Univer­sity of Jerusalem hold­ing a num­ber of cannabis pa­tents. Oren Lei­bovitz, chair­man of the coun­try’s Green Leaf political party, says the ex­port of med­i­cal mar­i­juana looks set to be­come le­gal in Is­rael, “which will make cannabis the coun­try’s No.1 ex­port, su­per­sed­ing weaponry and, po­ten­tially, nat­u­ral gas.” And it’s this kind of talk that makes cor­po­rate heavy hit­ters giddy. “It’s a green rush, with­out a doubt, and the trend of com­pa­nies list­ing on pub­lic ex­changes is a re­sult of am­bi­tious types with big plans look­ing to­wards the fu­ture,” chimes Na­tiv Segev, 37, who worked in Is­rael’s cannabis in­dus­try for more than fve years, be­fore be­com­ing man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of MGC Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in early 2016. “From food sup­ple­ments to cos­metic prod­ucts, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to pet food, mul­ti­ple in­dus­tries are go­ing to un­dergo se­ri­ous changes. As for the ubiq­uity of cannabis, I hope and be­lieve that it will be ev­ery­where, even in prod­ucts we now fnd it hard to imag­ine.” Amid this green flow of good tid­ings, Aus­tralia is well po­si­tioned to be­come a world leader in the bud­ding cannabis mar­ket, given our cli­mate and know-how. Ac­cord­ing to Elaine Darby, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Auscann, an­other med­i­cal mar­i­juana start-up set to list on the ASX, cannabis is a lot like wine grapes – able to grow par­tic­u­larly well in specifc re­gions. “The Hunter Val­ley, and south-west WA, Mar­garet River would be ideal lo­ca­tions.” Auscann, with $3m in fund­ing al­ready se­cured, is cur­rently set­ting up a trial plan­ta­tion on Christ­mas Is­land in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Mur­doch Univer­sity.

Darby, 44, says she was drawn to Auscann by one of its board mem­bers, Dr Mal Washer, a GP and for­mer Lib­eral MP. “He’s my father, and when he frst men­tioned cannabis, I was scep­ti­cal – he’s a re­spected GP, an ex MP, I just thought, ‘What have you got into? But once I saw the po­ten­tial ev­i­dence of med­i­cal benefts, I was straight on board.” Un­like MGC Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Auscann plans to ex­plore the med­i­cal benefts of the psy­choac­tive in­gre­di­ent of cannabis, THC, as closely as its other prop­er­ties. “I don’t un­der­stand why THC is de­monised,” adds Darby. “And what sur­prises me is sci­en­tists, es­pe­cially doc­tors, hav­ing this knee­jerk re­ac­tion. “Let’s put [THC] through clin­i­cal tri­als – we don’t know un­til we try. It’s strange, there’s this whole emo­tional thing that peo­ple have about recre­ational use.” Phil Warner, who’s al­ready grow­ing large felds of cannabis in NSW’S Hunter Val­ley through his com­pany, Ecof­bre In­dus­tries, couldn’t agree more. “There’s cyanide in wool, but we don’t ban wool,” he points out. Spend a few min­utes talk­ing to him and it’s quickly clear that he’s just about the best-in­formed cannabis ex­pert in the coun­try. Look closely and you’ll even see dents in his fore­head where he’s banged his head against nu­mer­ous walls try­ing to ex­plain to ev­ery­one – from politi­cians and pun­ters to po­lice – the sci­ence, back­ground and what is, to him, the sear­ingly ob­vi­ous truth about mar­i­juana. His big­gest strug­gle, though, is con­vinc­ing peo­ple that there’s no point smok­ing any­thing from the gi­ant felds of fa­mil­iar look­ing plants he cur­rently grows. The plants are le­gal be­cause they’re a strain of cannabis with ul­tra-low lev­els of THC, and used to cre­ate hemp prod­ucts. They are, how­ever, rich in CBD and could be used for cannabis pills and balms, among other prod­ucts, once laws change to al­low med­i­cal mar­i­juana. “The re­search we’ve done over many years shows that 90 per cent of cannabis species have just one per cent THC,” says Warner, adding that the whole mar­i­juana “fear cam­paign” is just a “mis­un­der­stood botan­i­cal re­al­ity”. Af­ter 20 years of try­ing to es­tab­lish a cannabis-grow­ing busi­ness in Aus­tralia, he’s had more than his fll of politi­cians who don’t want to talk about it. “I have a let­ter from [Fed­eral min­is­ter for health] Sus­san Ley say­ing we can’t le­galise hemp seed food, which has zero mar­i­juana in it, be­cause it might send a con­fused mes­sage to con­sumers about the ac­cept­abil­ity and safety of cannabis,” he says. “So here’s the whole world recog­nis­ing the value of cannabi­noids in medicine, yet we’re still [say­ing] ‘things that are il­le­gal must be bad’. But it doesn’t mat­ter what any­one says – hemp is in­evitable, like so­lar power or high­ca­pac­ity bat­ter­ies.” Warner’s re­search into his in­dus­try – and the pos­si­bil­i­ties of what may lie ahead – has seen him make nu­mer­ous trips to China, South Amer­ica, Rus­sia, Africa and the US, where Thc-rich cannabis is of­ten grown in multi-mil­lion-dol­lar ware­house fa­cil­i­ties and stored in con­crete bunkers. “We’re talk­ing two-foot-thick ce­ment walls, roof and floor, it’s like a con­cen­tra­tion camp, just to keep this cannabis safe – I know of one fa­cil­ity in Canada that cost $20m, it’s crazy,” says Warner. “And yet we can go out to­mor­row and grow you a crop that no one can smoke, or make money out of, and which has the med­i­cal benefts of CBD. Be­yond his NSW crop, Warner’s com­pany has cul­ti­vated ‘grows’ in WA, Tas­ma­nia and Queens­land, with a planned set-up for the North­ern Ter­ri­tory. He also has li­cences to cul­ti­vate (and has done so) in France and Africa. “But Aus­tralia is my coun­try. And sadly it looks as if we have to take ev­ery­thing over­seas frst, be­fore we get go­ing here, be­cause of bu­reau­cratic and political naivety.” Warner might, for now, only grow the plants no one wants to steal, but that doesn’t mean he’s against THC for medic­i­nal pur­poses. “THC is not nec­es­sar­ily bad for you in cer­tain doses. Look at mor­phine – it’s not good for you, but we give it to peo­ple for pal­lia­tive care and most of those peo­ple die from mor­phine over­dose,” he says. “If you use a dose of THC in com­bi­na­tion with your mor­phine you re­duce your mor­phine need by three quar­ters, get the same level of pain re­lief and be more lu­cid and aware, be­cause mor­phine sends you on a trip. THC, how­ever, sends you to a happy world where you think you’re a bit smarter than you are.” THC is, of course, pop­u­lar in Colorado, where ingest­ing mar­i­juana in var­i­ous forms – smoke, vapour, dough­nuts, soft drink, Gummy Bears – has be­come a lu­cra­tive in­dus­try and key tourist at­trac­tion. Joe Ho­das, chief mar­ket­ing of­fcer of Dixie Elixirs & Ed­i­bles, set to be­come the frst US cannabis com­pany to ex­pand into Aus­tralia when its CBD top­i­cal creams and cos­met­ics go on sale this year, is a Colorado na­tive who “lives, breathes and eats” his in­dus­try. He says le­gal­i­sa­tion has been hugely suc­cess­ful in his state, along­side Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon and Alaska – the com­bined mar­ket pre­dicted to reach $4.5bn in sales of recre­ational and medic­i­nal mar­i­juana this year. A bil­lion of that will be fun­nelled back into Colorado, or “Pot Par­adise” as he calls it. “If you look at the black mar­ket na­tion­ally, and be­gin to think about what would hap­pen if that all be­came le­gal, tracked and taxed, you’d be look­ing at $50bn a year,” says Ho­das, 45, let­ting out a low whis­tle. “Peo­ple of­ten ask me why the US has be­come the frst place to do this, or why Colorado. And the rea­son has a lot to do with who

“Look at the black mar­ket – if that all be­came le­gal, tracked and taxed, you’d be look­ing at $50bn a year.”

we are as a state. We’re cow­boys, we’re mav­er­icks, we have our own way of do­ing things and this was just a case of the will of the peo­ple tri­umph­ing.” The le­gal jour­ney in Colorado started in 2000, when 54 per cent of res­i­dents voted in favour of medic­i­nal use laws. Recre­ational use was le­galised in 2013. “Aus­tralia shares a lot of the same can-do, we-do-it-our-way cul­ture that Colorado has. I’ve a few Aussie friends, they’re a pretty rowdy group, so it makes sense it’s one of the frst coun­tries we’ve gone to, we think there’s a lot of op­por­tu­nity for us.” Aus­tralian start-up CANN Group will mar­ket the Dixie-branded CBD cos­met­ics here, a frst for the Amer­i­can frm. “In the US, all our brands are THC prod­ucts, be­cause it works, and doc­tors here will talk about the ‘En­tourage ef­fect’, which is the idea that if you take cannabi­noids in­di­vid­u­ally they’re not as pow­er­ful, so CBD and THC to­gether is bet­ter,” says Ho­das. “And there is beneft in th­ese prod­ucts, if you’re tak­ing them for medic­i­nal rea­sons. Don’t think of it as a mar­i­juana choco­late bar, it’s a de­liv­ery sys­tem.” The Amer­i­can ex­pe­ri­ence brings ob­vi­ous joy to the bearded, braided brigade of true be­liev­ers in Nim­bin NSW, a town where the Aquarius Fes­ti­val landed in 1973 and seem­ingly never ended. It’s the kind of place where many of the re­main­ing hip­pies are now due for hip re­place­ments; the kind of town where shops have signs an­nounc­ing they may open at 10am, de­pend­ing on how they feel. Michael Balder­stone, pres­i­dent of Nim­bin’s fra­grant HEMP Em­bassy, is thrilled that medic­i­nal cannabis has fnally landed on the agen­das of state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments. “Cannabis is so dif­fer­ent to other il­le­gal drugs, be­ing a herb, and it re­ally is a ter­rifc pain re­liever, but we’re cyn­i­cal about let­ting the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try get in­volved,” says Balder­stone. “They have a stran­gle­hold on the pain-re­lief mar­ket, which is prob­a­bly the most proftable in­dus­try in the world, and they’ll fght tooth and nail to hang on to it.” Balder­stone claims all kinds of mir­a­cles to have oc­curred in the US, eco­nomic and oth­er­wise, on the back of cannabis le­gal­i­sa­tion: deaths, sui­cides and car ac­ci­dents are all down, so too is crime now that po­lice aren’t tied up with mis­de­meanour drug en­deav­ours. “Peo­ple have changed their minds quickly in the US – their neigh­bour’s given up drink­ing, started smok­ing green and now he’s a bet­ter bloke,” he says. “It’s hard for peo­ple to ad­mit they’ve been wrong about cannabis, but I’d be amazed if there’s not 80 or 90 per cent sup­port for med­i­cal use in Aus­tralia. Even­tu­ally, they’ll just have to let ev­ery­one grow their own plants. Change is in the air, says Balder­stone, point­ing to what he la­bels “hemploy­ment”, that is, the wealth of job op­por­tu­ni­ties that would ride shot­gun on the drive to le­galise weed. Pru Goward, Lib­eral MP and NSW min­is­ter for med­i­cal re­search, and the per­son who’s pulled to­gether the pieces of NSW’S early trial of medic­i­nal mar­i­juana, scoffs at the sug­ges­tion such moves would start an ob­vi­ous jour­ney to recre­ational use in this coun­try. “We don’t want recre­ational use, and I think the pub­lic knows that we will not al­low that and we won’t be try­ing to pull a swifty,” Goward tells GQ. “And be­cause we’re a con­ser­va­tive govern­ment, there’s a greater chance of that be­ing ac­cepted by the pub­lic.” But she’s proud of what the NSW Baird govern­ment is do­ing: in March, 40 chil­dren with se­vere epilepsy are due to start a trial of Sa­tivex, a cannabis-based drug. She re­counts how it be­came her mis­sion to make the drug avail­able. “We sim­ply can’t keep deny­ing anec­do­tal ev­i­dence, from good peo­ple who don’t usu­ally break the law, who have sourced cannabis and are talk­ing about the in­cred­i­ble im­pact it has on their chil­dren’s lives,” she says. “The prob­lem is that there’s lit­tle re­search of a mod­ern stan­dard, ex­cept for one drug, Sa­tivex. It’s GW Pharma’s drug and I was told by the Health Depart­ment there’s no way they’d let us be part of their global trial, so I wrote to them and got a po­lite “No”. Not want­ing to end things there, Goward headed for Lon­don and a meet­ing with GW Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals’ ex­ecs. “There was only one thing left to do, so I went over there and had what started out as a very tense meet­ing. And I even­tu­ally I worked out an agree­ment with them. “I walked out of that meet­ing two inches off the ground. It was a day where I could say to my­self, yes, I re­ally achieved some­thing.” Politi­cians, she ad­mits, don’t have many days like that.

Michael Lambert has no time for Pru Goward. Or any politi­cian. For him, they’re sim­ply mov­ing too slowly to save his beau­ti­ful, bro­ken lit­tle girl, Kate­lyn Blossom Lambert. He’s tried to fnd a way to cir­cum­vent them, talk­ing his par­ents, Barry and Joy, into do­nat­ing $33.7m to Syd­ney Univer­sity to fund medic­i­nal cannabi­noid re­search. It’s the largest do­na­tion of its kind, ever, but Barry Lambert, num­ber 145 on the BRW Rich 200 List thanks to the sale of his wealth man­age­ment busi­ness Count Fi­nan­cial, can af­ford it. He’s also in­vested a few mil­lion with Phil Warner’s Ecof­bre In­dus­tries. Michael jokes that he and his two sis­ters have ba­si­cally chipped in $10m each of their in­her­i­tance. Still, what man wouldn’t be moved by see­ing his grand­daugh­ter strug­gle with crip­pling seizures from the age of 10 months? “Ba­si­cally her brain is be­ing elec­tro­cuted, it’s like she’s get­ting tasered, but it doesn’t turn off af­ter a se­cond, it just goes on and on,” says Lambert. The in­jus­tice of the sit­u­a­tion makes him fu­ri­ous. Dis­cussing it, his hands ball into fsts. “You can give them ad­dic­tive, psy­choac­tive drugs, which you know will fuck them up, be­cause they stop your child dy­ing, but won’t make them bet­ter. But I’m not al­lowed to give her cannabis, which has never killed any­one, not even in huge doses, be­cause we don’t know its ef­fects. Se­ri­ously?” His words won’t come any more, the rest­less anger is too ragged. He charges off to pick up Kate­lyn, to in­tro­duce us. Her words won’t come ei­ther, not now, per­haps never. One side of her mouth hangs open, crop­ping her beau­ti­ful smile, but she grips GQ’S hand and her eyes hold ours, laugh­ing, search­ing. Plead­ing. n

Clock­wise, from top: mea­sur­ing po­tency lev­els

of medic­i­nal mar­i­juana in the US; tend­ing to an Amer­i­can ‘grow’; Aus­tralian father Michael Lambert and his daugh­ter, Kate­lyn.

From top: Ecofi­bre In­dus­tries’ Phil Warner and his com­pany’s large cannabis crop; a bag of medic­i­nal mar­i­juana.

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